ByAlex Martin Smith, SECcountry:
After watching games in Auburn and Gainesville on Saturday evening, Las Vegas came away with a strong impression: The SEC Championship Game will not be close. Alabama opened as a 12-point favorite and climbed to 17 on Sunday morning, according to VegasInsider.com.
By Michael Casagrande, al.com:
Scoring’s been an issue for Florida lately. A Saturday night safety against Florida State was all that prevented the program’s first shutout since 1988. A week earlier, Florida Atlantic took the Gators to overtime in a 20-14 escape job. Momentum isn’t positive entering Saturday’s SEC Championship Game meeting with Alabama. Nick Saban isn’t taking the Gator offense lightly. He called Florida a “dangerous team” in Sunday’s media teleconference. “They still have a lot of good players,” Saban said. “I think they’ve shown an ability to run the ball. They have a very good back. They’ve got a great receiver. This is a good football team and I don’t see them struggling. They played against a very good Florida State team, had the ball in the red zone a couple of times and didn’t score or that game would have gone right down to the wire. We have a lot of respect for Florida and their offense.”
By Marq Burnett, Anniston Star:
For anyone who wants to mention Auburn’s kick return in 2013, they must also include Alabama kicker Adam Griffith’s perfect day in the Crimson Tide’s 29-13 Iron Bowl win at Auburn. Griffith made all five of his field goal attempts, including four in a touchdown-free first half. The junior kicker accounted for 17 of the Tide’s points in his first trip to Jordan-Hare Stadium since the infamous kick. “That game will be something that I will never ever forget, and that certainly wasn’t Adam’s fault,” Tide coach Nick Saban said. “He did a great job today, and not just on field goals, but on kickoffs and he really did a nice job of finishing the season for us.”
The once-unstoppable Southeastern Conference is down to one national title contender. Predictably, it’s No. 2 Alabama. If No. 18 Florida pulls off the upset in Saturday’s SEC championship game in the Georgia Dome, the league that trumpeted a seven-year national title stranglehold not so long ago won’t even get an invitation to the competition. The Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1 SEC, No. 2 CFP) kept its playoff candidacy intact with 10 fourth-quarter points in Saturday’s 29-13 win over rival Auburn. The Gators (10-2, 7-1) already had an uphill battle before a 27-2 loss to Florida State. And then there was one. Pressure is nothing new to Alabama, which has essentially had nine straight must-win games since losing to Mississippi.
By CECIL HURT, Gadsden Times:
Derrick Henry never broke one of his trademark long touchdown runs Saturday, the kind where he slices through a defense like a great white shark through salt water, the opposing safeties trailing just behind like pilot fish. Part of that was due to an inspired Auburn effort to slow him down. Part of it was a playing surface that seemed more suited for a Stanley Cup showdown than an Alabama-Auburn football game. There was one 30-yard burst, then the late 25-yard touchdown where Henry pushed his way through an exhausted defense. Instead, there was a steady stream of 4-, 5-, 6- and 7-yard runs that wore down the Tigers and provided a mirror to what Henry’s Alabama team has done since mid-September when it lost to Ole Miss.
By Christopher Walsh, Bleacher Report:
Every time Derrick Henry came off the field in the fourth quarter, Nick Saban was there to check on him. As carries mounted up and started approaching previously unseen levels at the University of Alabama, the conversation kept repeating itself. “Are you good? Are you tired?” the head coach kept asking. “I’m good,” was always Henry’s response. Actually, he was great as No. 2 Alabama wrapped up the Southeastern Conference’s West Division title and will face Florida next week in Atlanta. With a record-setting performance, Henry finished with 46 carries for 271 rushing yards and one touchdown as Alabama won its annual showdown with Auburn 29-13 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The junior running back earned every bit of it.
By Zac Ellis, SI.com:
Now the Tide are on the cusp of bringing another SEC championship trophy back to Tuscaloosa. After their earlier loss to Ole Miss, the college football world wondered if the end of the Alabama dynasty was near. Now the team that had to read its own obituary two months ago has a chance to repeat as SEC champs. “This team’s gained a lot of confidence in each other, mainly because we figured out how to play with each other.” Coker said. “The effort everybody puts in across the board — everybody buys in. It’s really special to see how this team’s grown.” Added linebacker Reggie Ragland: “We had our backs against the wall the whole year, but we had to focus on our goal and that’s what we did.”
By Kevin Scarbinsky, al.com:
In the immediate aftermath, as Alabama turns toward the SEC Championship Game and Auburn contemplates, perhaps, the Birmingham Bowl, one question has to be asked more than once. How big is the gap between these teams? Between first place and last place. Between an Alabama team three wins shy of a national title and an Auburn team that’s lost as many games as it’s won. How big is the gap between these programs? Alabama now has won two straight Iron Bowls, four of the last five and six of the last eight. How big is the gap in this state? Alabama has completed its fifth straight regular season with only one defeat. Each stumble was a conference loss, which means the Crimson Tide has dropped five SEC games in five years.
By Charlie Potter, 247sports.com:
The last time Adam Griffith played in Jordan-Hare Stadium, he was on the wrong end of college football history. But that figurative monkey is no longer on his back. In fact, it never was. But let’s just say, for this article’s sake, the infamous “Kick Six” had lingered with the place kicker and affected his play. Well, he ridded himself of that memory Saturday. Griffith booted five field goals through the uprights in Alabama’s 29-13 victory over the Auburn Tigers on Saturday afternoon, including a 50 yarder in the waning minutes of the first half.